Reality or RealiTV?



Made in Chelsea; Real Housewives of Cheshire; The Only Way is Essex; Great British Bake Off; The Apprentice; Strictly Come Dancing; X Factor.

Throw in a few pizzas and bowls of pesto pasta and there you have a week in the life of a twenty-one year old.

We pile into our student lounge sporting various combinations of tracksuits, pyjamas and onesies and settle down for an hour of becoming a little too emotionally invested in the lives of others. We all cheered on Ollie Locke as he put JP in his place on the Henley river bank. We all giggled like school-girls when Selasi piped that icing. We all screamed in outrage when Sharon Osborne decimated the Over 25 category at Judge’s houses. Reality TV continues to be an ever growing phenomenon. But why?

It was not all that long ago that I was spending my weekends at the beach. I was staying out until highly unsociable hours of the morning. I was going to cool clubs with fancy cocktails and swimming pools in the back. I would sit in a room full of girls and spend hours gossiping about people we knew. Living our own dramas. It was not that long ago when a night in front of the TV would have been a welcomed blessing after the never ending birthdays, socials, special events and catch-ups. Now, almost every night of the week I stare enviously at a screen and watch people getting paid to do those things.

I wonder out loud who Nicole Scherzinger is dating, rather than focusing on my own, slightly lacklustre dating scene. I have reached that unfortunate stage in life when reality TV has become my personal reality.

We all know that in recent years there have been many questions raised about how healthy social media is. I know I can’t be the only one whose parents have banned phones at the dinner table. Kate Bush once requested that her fans refrain from filming her show because if people wanted to watch it through the screen of the person in front of them, then they would have stayed home to watch it on TV. We are rapidly breeding a culture of people who struggle to enjoy anything until they share it with the world.

When I was a child, popularity was determined by your Top Trump skills in the playground. Today, ‘likes’ are the new symbol of status. Smart devices and social media have opened up a whole new sphere of connectivity, and not everyone is happy about it. I would argue, however, that we cannot reasonably throw our arms up in exasperation at this and not reality TV. How is it fair to ask someone to look up from their phone and stop talking to their friends in order to spend some quality time with you watching the lives of complete strangers unfold? At least through social media we are, for the most part, keeping in touch with people we know. I once had a friend use my snapchat to check up on her ex. I have known relationships to start through an Instagram. FaceTime is a revolutionary concept that enables me to regularly see friends and family who live on the other side of the world – people that I would otherwise only see every few years. Whilst we may not quite be able to call living through a screen ‘reality’, in my opinion it is certainly more deserving of the title than say Joey Essex or Amy Childs.

My solution? TV dramas! More often than not they give us far greater role models: Aspire to be as witty as Chandler Bing, as successful as Dr Grey, find a love like Marshall and Lily’s. But most importantly, know that they are all fiction and that the best life to live is your own.


The Pizza Index


There are many simple pleasures in life: sleeping on fresh sheets, receiving post, finding money in your pocket, waking up in the night and realising you have more time to sleep, and of course, my personal favourite… pizza.

It is the ultimate comfort food. The go-to when there is nothing in the fridge. The cure for any illness *cough* hangover *cough*.

I am a girl who is lucky enough to say that she has once had the good fortune to enjoy an authentic margarita with good company, a crisp glass of white wine, and the Roman colosseum in the background, and all for the grand total of €10 (roughly £9). So imagine my horror when one lazy evening I decide to indulge in a few slices of Italy’s gift to the world, and find myself faced with a charge of £18 – without the wine!

Born in an Italian village, pizza is the superstar that took the world by storm. No matter who you are, the chances are pizza is a staple in your diet; ok, maybe not a staple, but it will certainly like to rear its head and remind you it’s there every once in a while. Gluten free? No matter. Cue the hipster cauliflower crust. Dairy free? We’ve got you covered too. Nutritional yeast: tastes like cheese. Why, oh why, then am I paying double to devour a greasier version of something that I once tucked into under a clear blue sky, in one of the world’s most popular tourist spots, with a cute Italian man in a waistcoat asking me how I like it, in bed with no makeup on and my hair scraped up out of the way?

In today’s wonderfully ever-expansive world, pizza can be found in all corners. I hear that as many as 350 slices of pizza are consumed every second. Many countries have adopted it and given it all the love and affection that it deserves, slowly raising it to reflect the traditions of its new home, without changing who it is at its core.

Australia has the bbq shrimp pizza. India has the curry pizza. Turkey has the pizza kebab. America did such a marvellous job that many truly believe that they are the grandfathers, not the Italians. I had to conclude that if the price could be so drastically different between Rome and North-East England, then so must it be between cities everywhere.

But why? Is it possible that the price of pizza is a reflection of the wealth of a country? Had I just invented the Pizza Index? I did some digging. Sadly not. A Pizza Hut pizza is more expensive in Brazil than it is in Japan; more expensive in France than it is in Canada; cheaper than all four in America. Perhaps I was way off-base and it was the fact that I ordered a renowned delivered Pizza brand over a local homemade pizza that inflated the cost. But that couldn’t be right either. The most expensive pizza in the world is $12,000 (£9,785…) and takes 72 hours to make. It is topped with buffalo mozzarella, three types of caviar, lobster from Norway and Cilento, and is lightly dusted with handpicked crystals of pink Australian sea-salt from the Murray River. It is also as homemade as it comes, with three Italian chefs taking over your kitchen for the full 72 hours to produce such a delicacy for you.

Ok, so that is a bit extreme. Maybe I’m paranoid. Or maybe it just all boils down to that fact that those clever people over at that popular takeaway pizza brand knows that in my desperate state at 10pm on a Sunday night I will pay just about anything for a taste of that cheesy goodness.